Analysis: Why won’t Congress make daylight saving time permanent?


On Sunday morning, we will all unwittingly set our clocks back an hour, thus leaving them to a winter of darkness.

It doesn’t have to be that way!

In March, the Senate passed a bill to make Daylight Savings Time permanent, meaning it would not return to “standard time” from early November until mid-March.

“You’ll find an eclectic collection of members of the United States Senate in favor of what we just did here in the Senate, which is to pass a bill to make daylight saving time permanent today,” Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida. he said then. “This past weekend, we all went through that two-year ritual of changing the clock back and forth and the disruption that comes with it. And you have to wonder why we keep doing it?”

And yet, all these months – and with the clocks ticking back – the Democrat-led House has not taken action. And it seems unlikely that he will in the lame-duck session that follows next week’s midterm elections.

“I can’t say it’s a priority,” Rep. Frank Pallone, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, told The Hill in July.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she personally favors making Daylight Savings Time permanent, but said in March that “it’s not going to be a big issue” for her caucus.

It’s weird. Because making Daylight Savings Time permanent is so popular. A Monmouth University poll in March showed that 61% of Americans would support eliminating our clock change every two years. According to the survey, 44% of Americans prefer Daylight Savings Time to be permanent, and 13% (who are those people!) want to operate on regular hours all year round.

The Daylight Saving Time debate has been around for a long time. And understanding why we get it wrong at least backs us up. It is not, as is commonly assumed, that we wanted to give farmers more time to work in the fields in the spring and summer. Instead, it aims to reduce our electricity consumption by turning on the light later in the day.

In fact, our current daylight saving time practices are less than two decades old. Before 2007, DST started in April and ended in October. But in 2005, President George W. Bush – hoping to address the country’s long-term energy problems – ended Daylight Savings Time three weeks earlier and a week later.

The Department of Energy found in 2008 that extending Daylight Savings Time by four weeks saved about .5% of electricity use each day. So there it is.

(Sidebar: The U.S. isn’t the only one on Daylight Savings Time. Seventy other countries around the world are, too. But in Britain, France, and Germany, the change is on a different schedule: Clocks go forward on the last Sunday in March, and go back on the last Sunday in October. )

The origin of the idea is debatable. But in a 1784 letter to the editor of the Journal of Paris, Benjamin Franklin suggested that Parisians could save money by getting up earlier in the summer because they would have to light fewer candles in the evening.